Thursday, December 13, 2007

Update - My story for the Herald Leader

The Siloam Springs Herald Leader publisher asked me, because of my connection to Bekah and her family, to pull together a local angle story for the YWAM shooting in Arvada.

I'm pasting in the link for their story (on line) here. It was on the front page of Wednesday's paper, bottom right corner, above the fold (third main story on the front...not bad for a stringer). I've officially moved up to "paid" stringer...

Anyway, I'll also paste it below, for you to read.

Siloam family has ties to Arvada shootings, mission organization

By Kaylea Hutson Special to the Herald-Leader

As authorities dissect the actions of Matthew Murray, a gunman who killed four and injured at least five others in two geographically separate, yet connected shootings on Sunday, the effects of his actions continue to ripple throughout the world and in Siloam Springs.

On Sunday morning, Dr. Randy H. and Laura Rowlan awoke to learn that Murray entered the Youth with a Mission training facility in Arvada, Colo., and in an act of violence left two young adult staff members dead, and two others wounded.

For the Rowlans, the incident involved more than names in a news report. The young adults involved were friends and ministry colleagues for their son and daughter — Nathan, 24, and Rebekah, 22.

Nathan is a member of the YWAM-Arvada staff. Following the incident, he, along with others at the facility, was taken to the YWAM mountain campus. Rebekah spent several months this year at the Arvada campus before returning to Siloam Springs in mid-November after completing the discipleship training program.

Rebekah said she found it hard to remain in Siloam Springs, knowing that many people she cares about are hurting in Colorado.

“This is my community. Part of my extended family got hurt, ” she said. “ Some moments are better than others. ”

Since learning of the incident, Rebekah has spent much of her free time talking with friends from college and YWAM. She has also spent many hours in prayer, trying to come to grips with her feelings.

“One thing I learned at DTS is that God isn’t just there during the easy times, ” Rebekah said. “ God wants to be my rock in the bad times, too.

“I am taking the Psalms, which say ‘ I will trust you ’ and really taking ownership of those verses. ”

Rebekah said she knows the YWAM community, throughout Colorado and the world, is coming together, gaining strength through prayer.

“I’ve asked God why this happened, ” Rebekah said. “ But God doesn’t have control over us. We have free will and we can do what we want.

“Someone once said when you accept Christ and you believe in God, your life will be all rosy. But we don’t get out of troubles because we follow Christ. We just have to rely on him more because of those troubles.”

Rebekah said even though the shooting took place in Colorado, the effects will be felt throughout the world.

“At least 300 students go through there [the Arvada campus ] each year, ” Rebekah said. “ The ripples will be felt all over the place, because YWAM [casts ] a wide circle. ”

Remembering those killed

Both Nathan and Rebekah Rowlan took time this week to remember their friends involved in the shooting.

“Tiffany was bright, bubbly and kept making her blond hair blonder, ” Rebekah recalled of Tiffany Johnson, 26, one of the victims. “ She always had a smile on her face. ”

Rebekah said Johnson always seemed happy and joyful as she went about her work as head of the YWAM hospitality.

Her brother, contacted by email, agreed.

“ She was the kind of person that lit up a room anytime she entered it, ” Nathan wrote. “[She was ] incredibly mothering and kind, friends with everyone. She knew how to lead people and had a desire to be loved and learn how to love others. ”

During her time at the school, Rebekah accompanied Johnson in an outreach project to area skater kids.

Rebekah said Philip Crouse, the other shooting victim, was always friendly to those attending the training courses.

“ The last time I talked to him, it was when we were up in Eagle Rock, ” Rebekah recalled. “ He said he was the only staff member who didn’t have any stamps in his passport — it makes me really sad. ”

For Nathan, Crouse was not only a colleague at YWAM, but also a member of the same worship team at an area church.

“Philip was a one-of-a-kind guy, ” Nathan noted. “ He had a desire to learn and serve. He was a bit awkward at times, but a heart of gold that he had a desire to share with others. ”

Praying for the wounded

The two men wounded in the shooting remain hospitalized. Dan Griebenow, 24, has a bullet in his neck and is listed in critical, but stable condition. Charlie Blanch, 22, suffered gunshot wounds to his legs.

“Dan is one of my closest friends, ” Nathan said. “ He loves life and is a fighter. Almost every weekend this summer, he and I went camping or fishing together. If we weren’t doing that, he was probably at a music show downtown.

“He loves music and has a huge heart for kids on the punk and hardcore scene to understand the father heart of God. ”

Rebekah said Dan is not afraid to be himself.

“When we were at the coffeehouse (for homeless people ), Dan told us to go down and talk with people, ” Rebekah said, recalling how Dan would sit and talk with people, listening to their stories. ”

Nathan said Charlie is always interested in what is going on in other people’s lives.

“He makes people laugh and loves doing so, ” Nathan said. “ He is incredibly brilliant, who wants to use his gifts in the area of technology to bring others that love computers to love God also. ”

About YWAM

Rebekah chose to attend the discipleship training school to learn more about who God is and his plans for her life.

“I wanted a depth in my relationship with God, ” she said. “ I wanted a deeper, heavier foundation. ”

She said the 19-week program — which included nine weeks of class work and a 10-week trip to India and Nepal taught her many things, including a way to take classroom knowledge and put it into practice.

Nathan became involved with YWAM in 2004, when he attended a discipleship training school and a school of worship.

Following those courses, he traveled to South Africa, England and Holland as part of a band that played concerts, led worship and worked with AIDS orphans, street kids and local churches.

After a brief period away from the organization, Nathan returned in 2006 to attend the three-month leadership training program.

In June 2006 he joined the full-time staff, helping with music schools and discipleship schools, and using his carpentry skills to help maintain the campus.

Both Rowlans spent nine weeks this fall working in widows’ homes, villages and orphanages, and helping with a medical camp in India and Nepal.

In early 2008, Nathan will join a YWAM team working in Central Asia.

YWAM is an international, interdenominational Christian organization, which operates in 171 nations. Launched in 1960, it was developed as a way to provide short-term missionary service training for young people.


  1. Great writing, K. Makes you stop and think. The same kind of connection happened for me after the Columbine shootings. Rachel Scott's grandparents pastored in the town where I was living at the time. (She was the teen who wouldn't deny Jesus and was killed for it.)

  2. Wow, you are an extremely talented writer! I am so sorry for the pain your church is experiencing!


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